A superb work of storytelling, ‘Child Mind’ is nuanced and captivating

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A superb work of storytelling, ‘Child Mind’ is nuanced and captivating

David M Western

Self-described “anti-rock angry folk boy” David M Western’s original plans to record this album back in August 2018 were foiled when producer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Orton was struck down by appendicitis the day before they intended to commence work.

Unable to get a refund on the Airbnb, Western decided to instead settle into this country digs for a songwriter’s retreat, during which he wrote his first-ever release (Step On My Toes) and this record’s gently contemplative closer, Tissue Box Blues, which references this precise turn of events: “I wonder if Joe misses his appendix…”

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Child Mind’s cover photo aptly depicts a dusty country road at dusk and the opening title track provides listeners with some valuable insight into Western’s isolated upbringing: he grew up in Gunditjmara country and reckons even those he counted among his mates considered him “weird”. Gorgeous vocal harmonies, an eddy of layered guitars and optimistic melodies underscore Western’s beseeching vocals as he reframes his childhood memories through an adult lens: “For years I was thinking there was something I was missing when you cried they all called you a girl/ I was waiting at a bus stop, hiding in the backdrop lonely in a lonely world.”

The captivating Fool I Know kicks off with atmospheric guitar drone and minimal strumming – “You could’ve cried if you felt the need” – before a thrilling instrumental stacks-on transforms it into a completely different sonic beast. Then this song pares right back to just Western whistling a soothing refrain to close.

“Am I the only one not knowing who’s in control?” Western ponders during the uncertain Who’s In Control (“I’m lost without you/ I’m lost with you”). The chorus-less Blue Eyes Red sees Western grappling with his inner voice until a swarm of instrumentation – percussive flourishes, chimes and layered vocal harmonies – enters like overwhelming self-doubt that requires a much-needed slapdown: “I just never seem to belong/ Would the world even know if I was gone?/ ‘Cause if you wanna see how crazy I can be then I’m down with a capital ‘D’/ I’ll move over/ Get off your shoulder.”


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Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Western addresses missed opportunities on the plaintive Water Tank (“If I can’t have it all the time, I only have myself to blame”) and coming-of-age track Instant Life’s surprise closing guitar solo rips.

Originally, heavier versions of some of these songs were recorded but sometimes electric guitars were switched out for nylon strings to ensure Western’s superb storytelling received the undivided attention it so richly deserves. “The flies keep on comin’ the highway is a-hummin’ to take me out of this life” – Western paints vivid pictures of remote rural life through song. Lean in and appreciate every moreish nuance.

David M Western has a June residency at The Gem and will perform there every Thursday night

Child Mind is out under Believe. It was released on June 24. Find out more by heading here